MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact revamped their backline during the offseason, but their new-look defense took a hit during training camp with the loss of newcomer Zakaria Diallo, the first of several injuries that has only further muddled coach Remi Garde’s options.
Montreal’s defensive overhaul began in earnest when center back Laurent Ciman was traded to expansion team LAFC on Dec. 12. Diallo was to be the centerpiece of the new backline after he signed on Jan. 9 from Ligue 2 side Stade Brestois 29. But the 6-foot-4 Frenchman was lost for five to six months on the eve of the season because of an Achilles tendon injury he sustained in training.
French veteran Rod Fanni was signed to help fill the considerable void created when Diallo was lost to injury. The 36-year-old Fanni has returned to play the Impact’s past two games, both shutout losses, after missing four games because of a leg muscle injury.
“It really hasn’t helped us, but now it’s become part of our season and we have to deal with it,” Fanni said earlier this week. “We have to try to concern ourselves more with what we can use and what we are able to do rather than look at our injuries. Those are facts, so now we have no choice but to adapt.”
Garde said it was too early to know what formation he would use against the LA Galaxy on Monday (3 pm ET | TVAS, TSN — Full TV & streaming info). With center backs Victor Cabrera and Kyle Fisher sidelined by injuries, he is hopeful that Rudy Camacho may be available after failing to play the past three games.
“Yeah, it’s interesting and it creates a bit of a difficulty for the team, but that’s why we’ve got 27, 28 guys on the roster,” said right back Chris Duvall. “And we say it from Day 1 in preseason that we need every single player throughout the season and everyone’s time will come, and I think we’re approaching that time. We’re testing the depth of the team and we’ll ask a lot of guys to step up.”
Daniel Lovitz is another regular who will not play Monday because of a red card suspension.
The instability in the back has led the Impact to concede a league-high 26 goals in just nine games and is a big reason for the team’s current poor run of form with six losses in their last seven games.
“It’s always difficult to settle in a defense, especially when you have so many injured players and you have to change every weekend the back line,” Garde said before practice at Centre Nutrilait on Friday. “It’s not an easy situation for me, it’s not an easy situation for the team, because it’s normally where you want to have stability. But then for some reason we are struggling in terms of stability and capacity to put the same players every weekend, and we have to cope, we have to adapt to work on that.”